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UK lockdown to continue as coronavirus deaths keep rising

Media reports in Britain said some police forces say officers will arrest people who break the lockdown rules.

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UK LOCKDWON

London, April 10 : Britain’s coronavirus lockdown is to continue as the country heads towards one of its biggest holiday weekends of the year while the death toll keeps growing.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on Thursday announced the decision after chairing a meeting of Britain’s emergency COBRA committee, reported Xinhua news agency.

He announced there had been a further 881 hospital deaths linked to the virus in the previous 24 hours. It brought Britain’s death toll to 7,978.

The good news was that Johnson was on Thursday evening moved out of intensive care after nearly four days in an intensive care unit, but remained in hospital.

A No. 10 spokesperson said the prime minister will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery. “He is in extremely good spirits,” the spokesperson said.

Johnson introduced the lockdown on March 23, telling all citizens to stay at home, with outside journeys limited.

The fear was that a relaxation of the lockdown could risk seeing millions of people heading to seaside resorts and tourism hotspots during the four-day Easter holiday which starts Friday and lasts until Monday.

Raab urged people to stay at home during the holiday rather than heading out. There had been speculation that the lockdown could have been made more stringent.

“At this stage, the government continues to gather data to determine the effects of the lockdown and physical distancing measures,” he said.

He said it was too soon to say conclusively whether the measures were working.

But Raab said most people were following the instructions to limit their activities and to practice social distancing.

He said until the pandemic reaches beyond its peak in Britain it is too early to lift the lockdown measures. “We’re not done yet, we must keep going,” Raab said at a Downing Street briefing.

He said the government would carry out a further review in a week’s time. “There will be no decision on whether to extend the lockdown until the end of next week,” he said.

A relaxation is not expected until after scientists are convinced Britain has reached its peak.

In a plea to the British public, Raab said: “Let’s not ruin it now, let’s not waste the gains we’ve made. I know its tough going but this is a team effort and we will only beat the virus if we all stay the course.”

Although most people are adhering to the instruction, there are fears that with hot and sunny weather, and a temperature of 27 degrees Celsius forecast, some families may break the lockdown rules and leave home to enjoy the Easter Holiday.

Media reports in Britain said some police forces say officers will arrest people who break the lockdown rules.

Extra police patrols will be visible on motorways and major roads leading to tourism destinations.

Usually, around 10 million people head to visitor destinations in Britain during an Easter weekend, generating several billion U.S. dollars for the tourism industry.

The current rules stipulate occasions when people are allowed to leave their homes, covering shopping for essentials to heading outdoors close to home to exercise, with a requirement to stay at least two meters away from other people at all times.

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Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus

Brazil has reported by far the highest number of coronavirus cases in Latin America and is second only to the United States.

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Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for the coronavirus, local media reported.

On Monday night, he said he went to the hospital for a lung scan and would take a new test for the virus, after he developed symptoms, including a fever. It was later revealed that the separate medical exam had shown his lungs were “clean”.

Bolsonaro has reportedly canceled all his official activities until he gets the results of his test. “The president, at this time, is in good health and remains at his residence”, his office said on Monday.

In recent months, several of Bolsonaro’s aides have become infected with Covid-19. However, the president has often been seen defying restrictions such as mask wearing and social distancing.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus, saying it was just a “little flu” and condemning governors for imposing lockdowns that are causing job losses.

Brazil has reported by far the highest number of coronavirus cases in Latin America and is second only to the United States.

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NIMS begins subject registration for Covid 19 Vaccine clinical trial

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Covid 19 Vaccine

Hyderabad, July 7 : The subject enrolment for Phase-I clinical trial of India’s first indigenous vaccine for COVID-19 began at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Science (NIMS) here on Tuesday.

On the direction of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), authorities at NIMS began the process to register 30-60 subjects for the trial.

Blood and swab samples of the subjects will be collected and if found fit they will be administered the first dose of the vaccine after a week.

NIMS Director Dr K. Manohar told reporters that healthy subjects will be screened and their blood and swab samples sent to ICMR-designated lab in New Delhi. After receiving the test reports, the Department of Medicine will analyse the same and issue the fitness certificates to the subjects.

The subjects would be administered two doses of the vaccine. There will be two vaccine dosage of three micrograms and six micrograms, and a placebo.

Each subject would be given the second dose of the same vaccine after 14 days.

For two days after administering the vaccine, the subjects would be monitored for two days in the ICCU at NIMS by a team of doctors, after which they would be sent home and monitored through videoconference or phone.

The phase-I clinical trial would go on for 28 days, after which the ICMR and the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) would accord permission for Phase-II trial with more subjects.

Phase-1 would have around 375 subjects across the country and Phase-II 875.

NIMS is one of the hospitals selected by the ICMR to undertake clinical trials of Covaxin, which it is developing in partnership with Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL).

Meanwhile, the Ethics Committee at King George Hospital (KGH) in Visakhapatnam will hold a crucial meeting on Tuesday to finalise the preparations for the clinical trials. KGH is also one of the hospitals selected by ICMR for the trials.

In a letter to the heads of the selected institutions last week, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava asked them to fast-track all approvals related to initiation of the clinical trials and ensure that the subject enrollment is initiated no later than July 7.

“It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by August 15, 2020 after completion of all clinical trials. BBIL is working expeditiously to meet the target; however, the final outcome will depend on the cooperation of all clinical trial sites involved in this project,” reads the letter dated July 2.

He noted that this is the first indigenous vaccine being developed by India and is one of the top priority projects that is being monitored at the topmost level of the government.

“The vaccine is being derived from a strain of SARS-CoV-2 isolated by ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune. ICMR and BBIL are jointly working for the preclinical as well as clinical development of this vaccine,” he wrote.

While experts raised doubts on the August 15 target, the ICMR defended it, saying its process is in accordance with the globally accepted norms to fast-track vaccine development for diseases of pandemic potential.

The research body said the Director’s letter was intended to cut red tape, without bypassing any necessary process, and speed up recruitment of participants for human trials so that these phases can be completed at the earliest.

BBIL refused to comment on ICMR’s August 15 deadline.

The company had announced on June 29 that it had successfully developed Covaxin, India’s first vaccine candidate for COVID-19, in collaboration with the ICMR and NIV.

The SARS-CoV-2 strain was isolated in NIV, Pune and transferred to Bharat Biotech. The indigenous, inactivated vaccine has been developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech’s BSL-3(Bio-Safety Level 3) High Containment Facility located in Genome Valley, Hyderabad, the company said.

The Drug Controller General of India – Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare granted permission to initiate Phase I and II human clinical trials after the company submitted results generated from preclinical studies, demonstrating safety and immune response.

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52 killed in Japan due to torrential rain

In Omuta, about 200 people were left stranded at two evacuation centres after floodwaters surged in the area.

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Japan Rain Flood

Tokyo, July 7 : The death toll due to the torrential rain in Japan’s Kyushu region increased to 52 on Tuesday, with the government issuing its highest alert as the Chikugo river in Oita prefecture overflowed.

Kumamoto prefecture registered the highest number of victims at 51, while 11 people were reported missing, The Japan Times quoted authorities as saying.

The 52nd victim, a woman in Omuta Fukuoka prefecture, was found at her submerged home on Monday night and was confirmed dead Tuesday at a hospital.

In Omuta, about 200 people were left stranded at two evacuation centres after floodwaters surged in the area.

The Chikugo River, the largest in the Kyushu region, overflowed in Hita, Oita prefecture, prompting a local meteorological observatory and the land ministry to issue the highest-level alert to residents on Tuesday morning.

The death toll from the heavy rains that started in the early hours of July 4 is expected to climb as search efforts for the missing continued at sites hit by landslides and floods.

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